10 Low Cost Marketing Ideas For Small Local Businesses

Checkout these 10 low cost marketing ideas for small local businesses! Having a small business is great if you can make it work! Making a business work involves more than just being good at delivering great service. You also need to find enough customers to sustain your business. Without marketing, your business is dead in the water! So here’s 10 low cost marketing ideas for small, local businesses.

10 low cost marketing ideas for small local businesses


1 Word Of Mouth Advertising Sucks!

If you’re in a tiny niche business and well liked by people ‘in the know’, word of mouth advertising can be a great boost to your local reputation. Let’s face it, if you can excel at what you do, people will notice. Being ‘good’, no being ‘great’ at what you do gets you noticed. But it’s no good unless your customers are well connected with other who want your services. Plus, word of mouth advertising is largely out of your control. You can ask customers how they found you and they might say someone recommended you. However, how can you grow and scale this source of advertising?

10 low cost marketing ideas for small local businesses

By offering referral rewards! You can offer your customers some kind of discount, freebie or prize for referring new customers into your business. How you go about this is up to you. But think about the happy customers you already have and who they know. Asking for referrals, and placing a referral reward scheme in place, is a nice cheap and easy way to generate more customers using the leverage you already have – existing happy customers.

Make sure you can track sales coming from your referral scheme, so you’ll know when and how it’s working, or not!

2. Google Places For Business – Free Local Advertising Ideas

Yep Google has a free places listing for local businesses. If you’re not on it you’re almost literally throwing money away! You can start a Places listing and get one done in less than an hour, depending on how much of a technophobe you are! You will need to verify your listing which is done by Google sending you a code in the post. Once you prove you’re a real business and have an actual address, your listing should be up and running immediately.

If you do a Google search for local listings in your area, you’ll find local businesses popping up on Google Places near the top of the searches. Those are free business listings and they’re at the top of Google for a number of very specific searches relating to your business. Got one sorted quickly! Then there’s also Bing and Yahoo free business listings which do the same thing. They’re worth the time because once you have set them up you don’t need to do anything else. They’ll be a nice source of free traffic for potentially years to come! You’re welcome!

3. Website – Effective Local Marketing Strategies

If you’re still living under a rock and haven’t yet got a website for your business, that’s ‘numero uno’! People aren’t using the Yellow pages any more. Almost everyone now even searches Google on their phones, and they can do this from almost anywhere while on the go! If your business hasn’t got a website, you need to get with the program and get a website! There’s a number of free website building programs to be found on Google if you’re short on cash.

You can also use your main keywords in your domain name. This can give you slightly more power to rank your website for those keywords. However, it does depend on your competition and type of business. For example www.yourtownyourservice.com. (newyorkshoerepairs.com). In fact doing a quick Google search for New York Shoe Repair brought up the Google Places listings right at the top of the page. So you can see how powerful Number 2 in this list is!

10 low cost marketing ideas for small local businesses

4. Blogging

Once you have a website you can use blogging to find customers in your area. Write about the things which your customers are already searching for. You can find the keywords with a free tool – Google’s keyword planner. If you don’t already, you may need to open an account to use this service now (see Number 4 on this list). Checkout my ebook which explains a clever model to build your articles around for free exposure on Google.

Whether your articles rank on Google will depend on your writing quality, keyword choice and relative competition on Google. No one can guarantee you first place on Google though because it really depends on which keywords you’re competing for. Don’t trust the liars and sharks who tell you otherwise! For some very uncompetitive keywords you should be able to rank – such as your name. But for competitive keywords you’ll need to focus on paid advertising if you want any exposure.

10 low cost marketing ideas for small local businesses

5 Pay Per Click Advertising – Google Adwords

If you’re terrified of paying for advertising you need to wake up and smell the notice of eviction! Only kidding! Pay per click advertising is a must for any local business which wants to expand. If you’re happy to let your business dwindle, while others grow, keep doing what you’re doing. But your competitors may already be onto this clever and vital technique of advertising.

By using the Keyword tool mentioned in Number 4, you can find long and short tail keyword combinations which your potential customers are already looking for. That means that people are actively searching on Google for business services like the once you offer. If they don’t find you, who will they find? It’s easy and cheap to get started with pay per click advertising. You just need to open an account with Google Adwords. You may need to credit your account before you can use the keyword tool. This tool will help you find paying customers almost immediately.

You can also set your budget as low (or as high!) as you wish. Set to as little as £1.31 per day ($1.85).


You can burn through a budget with Google Adwords quite quickly if you don’t know what you’re doing. Plus, if you don’t use the right kinds of keyword searches, you’ll end up paying for clicks which are irrelevant to your business. There’s three kinds of search types: broad match, “phrase match” and [exact match]. Use [exact match] when you start out. This means whatever you put in those brackets is the exact phrase someone has to type to show your advert. Since you’ll be paying for click, you don’t want your advert shown to the wrong people.

Checkout my ebook below for more detail on this technique and other pay per click advertising techniques:

10 low cost marketing ideas for small local businesses

Radius Targeting

Pay per click advertising can also be used in conjunction with local radius targeting. This is great for local businesses. You can set a radius target of 10 miles around your business premises, for example and expand this range to whatever you choose. Combine this with search intent through keyword research and you’ll find hungry buyers almost immediately! It’s a very powerful tool for your local business and even for international businesses too. Make sure you track your leads so you’ll know where they’ve come from. Then you can scale up campaigns and reach more customers by increasing your daily budget.

6. Banner/Poster/Billboard Advertising

Have you got a banner outside your business premises? An all weather banner advertisement can bring you a steady stream of customers in for potentially years to come. It’s a low cost purchase and if you get a good quality banner which catches some passing trade it’ll more than pay for itself in no time! If you have a physical building to put one on, it makes no sense not to have one. If not see if there is advertise space nearby which would allow you to catch some passing trade.

Posters and billboards are also fairly cheap advertising methods to use for a local business.

Tracking All Your Advertising

Make sure you track them somehow so you’ll know where your customers came from. This can be done by offering a discount code, voucher or special offer from each advertising method you use. As you see your customers appear from each of the different methods, you’ll know which ones are performing the best. Once you know this you’ll be able to focus on the best performing ones and ditch the ones which either don’t work at all, or aren’t profitable.

7. Remarketing

10 low cost marketing ideas for small local businesses

Re-marketing is a great low cost method to advertise directly to people who have visited your website. By placing some code on your website, and using either Adwords or Facebook advertising platforms, you can show your adverts to customers, even after they have left your website.

This clever tool shows adverts to your potential customers when they browse other platforms. Your ads can get shown on the thousands of websites all over the internet. These adverts will only pop up for the people who have already visited you. This seems like it should be hugely expensive because your advert will be shown anywhere where the website owner runs Google’s adverts. Your ads can appear on Facebook too when the user leaves your site and goes to Facebook.

Adverts can get shown on hugely popular websites too, with your business image/logo! Re-marketing is a great low cost marketing idea for small local businesses and for larger businesses too. Like Adwords, you can set a daily budget for your re-marketing campaigns which you don’t want to go beyond. Once your budget is reached your ads will stop showing for that day.

Learn more about retargeting in my ebook The Ultimate Guide To Online Marketing.

8. Facebook Advertising – Create A Business Page

You can create a free business page in Facebook for your local business. This is a great free option which can bring you some new customers. Some Facebook business pages even rank on Google in the less competitive niches. This means they appear for searches with their main keywords in. So it’s a good idea to build your page with your main keywords in mind.

Fill out your profile in your business page with as much detail as possible. You can also link your page to your website, customise your page and post and share things on your page.

9. Build An Email List

10 low cost marketing ideas for small local businesses

Building an email list is probably one of the best ways for a small business to communicate with all it’s potential customers at once! By offering a ‘freebie’ giveaway, or even access to your discount codes, you can give your websites visitors a reason to opt-in to your email list. An email list can help you keep your business in the minds of your customers with:

  • Business changes
  • Updates, offers and discounts
  • Events and Courses which you offer

Get an email auto-responder account and you’ll be able to put some code on your website. This will enable you to collect your email subscribers and you’ll be able to set up automated messages to send out in bulk. Having a database of subscribers is a great way to keep in touch with your customer base and let them know what your latest offers are.

Facebook Advertising – Pay Per Click

Facebook is probably one of the best platforms to use for low cost local advertising. It lets you advertise to a very specific audience and you can also target your local area, like with Google Adwords advertising. Facebook is slightly different to Google’s Adwords in that it’s a social media platform rather than a search intent platform. As such your potential customers aren’t deliberately looking for you specifically.

However, Facebook lets you target people by their age, interests, location and a number of other demographics. This means it’s very targeted. If your business targets a certain age range, Facebook is perfect! If you also have a local business, cross referencing your specific age range with your location targeting allows you to find people who are very suitable for your business. Plus, you can set your daily budget for as little as you want, much like with Google’s Adwords platform. Once you see it working, you may want to increase your budget and find more customers.

Checkout my ebook to learn more about using this platform here.

10 low cost marketing ideas for small local businesses